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Paula Rogo
May, 10, 2018

Shopping while Black. Flying While Black. Now... napping while Black?

In another case of doing anything simple while being Black, a Black Yale University student was interrogated by campus police officers after a white student reported her on Monday for napping in her dorm's common room.

According to the Yale Daily News, African studies graduate student Lolade Siyonbola said that while studying in her dormitory's common area, she fell asleep. Siyonbola was then awakened by a white graduate student named as Sarah Braasch.

Braasch told Siyonbola that she could not sleep in the common area, and threatened to call the police, according to videos posted by Siyonbola.

“I have every right to call the police,” Braasch can be seen telling Siyanbola. “You cannot sleep in that room.” 

Multiple white police officers arrived soon after and began questioning Siyonbola. In an effort to convince the officers that she was a resident, she unlocked her door in front of the officers to show she lived there after they insisted on seeing her I.D.

Because her name was misspelled in the student database, more officers showed up to question Siyanobola. The officer said that they had to “make sure that you belong here.” She shared an extended video of the incident on Facebook Live.  

“I deserve to be here; I paid tuition like everybody else; I'm not going to justify my existence here,” she told officers. “I am not going to be harassed.”

Yale University appears to have sided with Siyanbola: “Incidents like that of last night remind us of the continued work needed to make Yale a truly inclusive place,” Lynn Cooley, the dean of Yale's graduate school of arts and sciences, said in an email to students the following day.

A second Black graduate student told a local news station that Braasch had also called police on him about a month earlier. Reneson Jean-Louis said he was in the same room for a meeting when Braasch confronted him.

“You're making me uncomfortable," she allegedly said. "I don't feel safe around you. You're an intruder.  You need to leave, you need to get out.” 

This "napping while Black" incident is part of a series of recent events that have caught national attention, in which white people have called the cops on Black people who are doing everyday things. These incidents include the police being called on two Black Starbucks patrons in Pennsylvania, as well as a group of Black women staying at an Airbnb in California.